Feb. 26, 2012
TENNESSEE HEAD COACH Pat Summitt
"It was a great crowd, a terrific crowd today, and a wonderful way to send our seniors out in style with a big win over a tough Florida team.
"All five of our seniors came ready to play and got off to a good start. That was really important for this team. I know they were excited and a little anxious but I liked the way they got us going after they settled down."
(on Alicia Manning)
"Obviously, A-Town (Alicia Manning) had a great overall game today with six assists, eight rebounds and 11 points. A lot of times she is the unsung hero. I thought she had a really good outing. I was happy for her."
(on Vicki Baugh)
"Vicki didn't play a lot of minutes today but I thought her defense in the post was strong for us. She is such an unselfish player and a great teammate."
(on Glory Johnson)
"When Glory went to work today she gave her teammates so much confidence. Obviously, she is a difference-maker for our team. I was really excited for her scoring 21 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Glory is a handful when you are battling her on the boards."
(on Shekinna Stricklen)
"Sometimes Shekinna starts out slowly but she picked up her pace today and had some key baskets for us. A couple of her threes were really timely. It was good to see her board play and point production."
(on Briana Bass)
"Bree came out with a lot of positive energy and set the tone for us on defense today. You always know that you are going to get 100 percent from her."
"Florida is a tough-minded opponent and they showed it today. Amanda always prepares her Florida teams to play hard and they gave us a battle."
TENNESSEE ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH Holly Warlick
"I obviously loved it. I was really, really excited for the seniors. And as much as they've taken a lot of heat from a lot of situations, I'm extremely proud of them. They're great people and they came out tonight and set the tone. That's the kind of thing we're looking for from them.
"What a great exit for them. Every one of them did great things and we're proud they're wearing the Tennessee orange."
(On Alicia Manning's performance)
"We'd love to get that from Alicia Manning and more. She got off to a great start. She had six assists and played an all-around game. That's what she's capable of doing."
(On why Manning hasn't had this sort of game before today)
"It's a combination of her starting. It's a combination of how hard she worked this week. It has to do with it being her last time playing in Thompson-Boling Arena along with all the other seniors. She was relaxed and she played her game. She wasn't forcing things, she wasn't trying to make things happen - the game came to her. And when she lets that come to her, she's a heck of a player."
(On knowing the Kentucky-Mississippi State result)
"I didn't. We just want to control what we can control. All I wanted to do was get a win and go into the SEC Tournament on a positive note. We created our own fate and we've got to live with it and just make sure we're playing hard and finishing out the season strong."
(On looking back with regret to the loss against Arkansas)
"It's hard anytime you lose at home. We lost to South Carolina; we lost to Arkansas - it's difficult. I'm not going to dwell on it but, yeah. Was it a factor now that you look back on it? Did it cost us a co-SEC championship? Absolutely. But it is what it is and we've got to move on and focus on what we're doing right now and how we played today. That's all we can do. Just move forward, stay in the now, go back to practice and keep getting better.
"It's a new season for us. It's a new season. You've got the SEC tournament, you've got the NCAA tournament and it's a new season."
(On starting five seniors)
"Well, right now they're our starting five unless it proves something different in practice the next couple of days. They got us off to a great start and they had a lot of pride in wearing the Tennessee orange. I'm excited for them. I'm not going to say it's dead-set, but it was a great group to start the game."
(On Ariel Massengale setting the freshman assist record)
"Where am I on that ranking? I'd have pulled her right on out. (Laughing)
"Ariel does what she does. She's a player; she's a playmaker, and she makes things happen for us."
(On tonight's defense forcing Florida to shoot from the perimeter)
"Our defense, when we needed stops we got them. We got confused a couple of times - I know on an out-of-bounds play we got confused and gave them a wide-open layup. And that's not acceptable; that just not being ready to play. For the most part, we started in a zone and we switched up man-zone, and it was very effective. We got down and got some good stops. We needed to rebound the ball a little bit more as a team, better.
"But Florida is a very good team - very athletic. Amanda (Butler) does a great job. We were concerned about this game, this team, and it proved to be true because Florida is an outstanding basketball team.
(On Kamiko Williams not playing and her status)
"It's a medical thing."
(On the impact of today's crowd)
"We have the best fans in America. And regardless of what situation we're dealing with, our fans came out to support our team and our coaching staff. We have five seniors and I didn't expect anything less.
"This year, they seem to be really into the game more, and I love it. I love when they get on the officials; I love when they get into it. It's just a great thing to see our fans have a lot of respect for our seniors."
(On Glory Johnson not fouling in the game)
"Glory is a workhorse, and I'm shocked that Glory didn't get a foul. My father used to say, `You didn't play hard enough unless you had at least one or two fouls,' so I'm going to get onto Glory. But Glory is a worker and I'm surprised she didn't get a foul. She plays hard. She plays every possession as hard as she can and she works and works. That's a tribute to Glory and her game and her style. I want her on my team. I don't want to play against Glory Johnson."
(On defending Florida's Jennifer George)
"We were in a zone and we were in a man - we were very aware of where she was. Glory was probably on her for the most part. She's a nice player. They're both two similar players, to me - very physical players, play with a lot of emotion. We were aware of her. We gave up too many threes (attempts), too many open looks. But for the most part, I was very, very proud of our defense and our overall team effort."
TENNESSEE SOPHOMORE GUARD Meighan Simmons
(On taking tonight's energy into the postseason)
"I think it's an expectation. The coaches expect us to play like we played today, everybody on their P's and Q's, making sure we bring energy from the bench to the senior starters, which they did an amazing job, and just staying focused, listening to the coaches and sticking to our game plan."
(On what was going through her mind watching the senior ceremony)
"Me and Kamiko (Williams) - we just had this moment. We're close. I think all of us, the underclassmen, are very close with our seniors. They've set a very good example for us. People don't know it, but we are always together, and for me it's an emotional moment. I know that these girls are going on to bigger and better things, and I wish the best for all of them."
(On Ariel Massengale setting the freshman assists record)
"Ariel came in as an amazing freshman. She's set the standard now for any other point guard who comes in after her that they have to know what it's like to be a very poised and consistent point guard. That's what Rel has been doing a lot lately, and she's been there for us a lot. She's been hitting Glory (with passes) and everybody else around the court. She has very good vision out there on the floor. I congratulated her on that. She's been doing an amazing job."
TENNESSEE SENIOR FORWARD Alicia Manning
(On her performance tonight, her energy)
"I was just excited, Senior Night, and our fans have just been with us through everything. I personally felt like I owed it to them. I owed it to my family. They're the reason why I'm here, so I let it all out on the floor."
(On tonight being the last night of her home career)
"It feels good. It gets emotional. I'm going to miss playing with everybody here and having the fan support that we have here unlike any program in the country. It's good to get this game under my belt going into the SEC Tournament."
(On why Tennessee's energy was high tonight)
"It comes down to us just setting our minds to it really. It just can't be four people on the floor. It can't be three people on the floor. It's got to be all five, and the bench has got to be ready whenever their number is called, so it's got to be a collective effort, and it's got to be a sense of urgency all the time. I think sometimes when our offense is doing well, that's when we kind of slack on the defensive end so just knowing that defensive boards, like Pat always says, is going to be what's going to get us into the tournament and deep into the tournament."
(On if they talk about a story-book ending, finishing this season with a national championship for Pat)
"I think it's in the back of everyone's mind. We've all seen A Cinderella Season. It's in the back of our minds, but we're trying to stay in the present and just focus on the task at hand, and that's our next practice, really and trying to create that energy that you all are talking about. We have to start practice doing that, and that's going to really help us."
TENNESSEE SENIOR Glory Johnson
(On if they get tonight's production from Alicia Manning throughout postseason how the team will do)
"[We will be] great and successful. We'll have a lot of wins, and if we have her energy on the floor and off the floor, it's amazing. She's always talking to us, so it helps us."
(On having zero fouls in the game, if she thought that would ever happen)
"That was the first thing I screamed when I went into the locker room was that I had zero fouls, and I was so happy. Games like that are where you kind of stay composed and let the refs handle it."
(On if she knew that Kentucky had beaten MSU earlier today)
"No, I didn't. I just knew that we had to win. I knew there was no other option. We couldn't take another loss, and Kentucky plays hard. They always play hard. The last game that I remember us having this much energy was against Kentucky at home, so just playing up to that level, always playing with intensity and always playing as hard as you can play."
(On tonight's attendance, close to 19,000 people, if she was surprised by it, what statement that makes)
"[I'm] not surprised at all. The Lady Vol fans have always had our back whether we're winning or losing. They're always staying positive with us; you've got to love it. That's what we came here for. That's what we expect from our fans. We're willing to go to work and work as hard as we can to keep that attendance up. It makes us so happy just to see the fans out there."
(On if maybe the fans came out to see Pat, if they thought it was her last home game at Tennessee)
"I don't think so. We don't know anything about that. If she was going to do that, she would've let us know. She was just really happy to be there, and we were happy to have her there. Until she says when, we're going to keep on being happy."
(On supposedly getting graduation gifts from opposing SEC coaches and post players, according to Amanda Butler, glad she's leaving)
"(laughter) I feel like I'm a smaller post player; I just have to play big. As long as I keep playing big, I don't care what size I am, how much I weigh, I'm going to keep playing as big as I can play."
FLORIDA HEAD COACH AMANDA BUTLER
"We were beat by a very good team. I felt like we were outplayed in a lot of ways and that was disappointing. Again, it is a great team on their home floor on a very emotional night and you have to give them credit for the tone they set from the beginning. I didn't think that we played Florida defense and that's probably what we are most disappointed in. There were some great players out there and some great ladies that were being honored here tonight by a fantastic crowd and they deserve it."
(On the outside shot selection)
"We took a few too many from outside early. The ones that were a little more cutting were some of the ones on the inside we missed early on. I felt like once we got going, we got the ball inside a little bit better and felt better, more confident and more comfortable with what we were doing offensively. Probably shot a few too many threes, but again you have to give credit to Tennessee's defense for making us feel like that was our best look."
(On if there is anything wrong with Jennifer George)
"No, nothing is physically wrong with her other than the physical defense that was being played on her. You know that's an expectation that George has had. She had a great regular season and when you perform at the level George has all year long, it's kind of that backhanded compliment, the attention that you are drawing and the way that people are defending you to try and keep the ball out of your hands. I thought she did a great job of bouncing back and adjusting to the way she was being defended, but at the beginning, it definitely was a slow start."
(On how happy post players will be to see Glory Johnson graduate)
"Post players, coaches and guards. She is a great representative of our league and I think it is one of the reasons why you choose this league as a competitor because you want to either play with or against the Glory Johnson's. She is a fantastic representative of the SEC and certainly of the University of Tennessee, a great competitor and she is just hard to handle. It's really hard to guard her one-on-one. She has made the most of her career here, certainly in the regular season, and I'm sure going forward. I think there will be some graduation gifts sent to her for sure."
(On her NCAA Tournament chances)
"I think our NCAA Tournament chances are great. Again, I think we are in a fantastic position of having more games to play. This is the worst performance that we had all year, but again, you have to look that we are playing one of the best teams in our league and some of those other factors. I think the body of work, in February in particular, is outstanding in terms of proving that we deserve to be in that field if an at-large bid is what we need."
(On if their bad play was a result of themselves or Tennessee)
"I think it was a combination of factors. I think you have to give Tennessee credit first, because again, they set the tone and that is very big for us. Even a slow start doesn't necessarily mean you are not setting the tone or making it a defensive grind or whatever the case may be. I didn't think that we stepped up to the challenge and the problem with the challenge was that it seemed like Tennessee was issuing the challenge and we were trying to meet it, as opposed to us being the ones who were being maybe more of the aggressors and that is not how we are best."
(On her exchange with coach Summitt)
"Well you know, Jordan said it very well, a lot of thoughts that I would echo. I'm not just a little girl from the South, but I was a little girl from Tennessee. You grow up surrounded by orange and then you realize that you want to be a basketball player, you're just so fortunate to have such a role model and someone who is so visible and visibly demonstrates the right things all the time. (She) epitomizes what it means to be a winner and a champion and just like Jordan, I'm just thankful for her in so many ways. I've been blessed to get to know her a little bit as a friend as well, but we're all not sitting here with TV cameras and all you guys writing stories if it is not for Pat Summitt and the visibility and the positive light that she has shone on our game for many, many, many years. Again, we are just lucky to have her in so many ways. We are lucky to have her in our conference too as a leader and as an example."
FLORIDA REDSHIRT SENIOR JORDAN JONES
(On what happened once UT got on the run after she hit her opening three)
"We knew that they were going to come out intense, fiery, it's a special for them like coach Butler said. That's on us that we didn't respond, answer the way we have all season long. Honestly, we start slow a lot and normally we're able to bounce but against a great team like Tennessee and on their home court, it is not possible to do."
(On greeting coach Summitt)
"Every kid grows up, especially in the South, watching Pat Summitt. She is the reason why I am playing basketball. She really got this game started for us and I can't say enough about the amount of respect that I have for her. I told her that since they announced the news I have been praying for her and the team every night and that she is an inspiration to everyone. That is exactly what I said and I mean every word of it."
(On Pat Summitt)
"The opportunities that she created for everyone by making women's basketball what it is today, I don't think we have all the scholarships we have now if it is not for Pat Summitt really taking the game to a new level. In a way, yes, she is definitely the reason why I am here."
(On the team wearing "We Back Pat" shirts)
"We're trying to show as much support as we can for the greatest coach in women's basketball history."